Covid-19 and the entrenchment of a virtual Elite private school: Rethinking education policies in Zimbabwe
By using a critical emancipatory research framework, this theoretical paper discusses the COVID-19-induced commercialisation of the education system in Zimbabwe. It argues that COVID-19 exposed and widened the digital gap between privileged and underprivileged learners, regardless of the learners’ geographical location. The digitalisation of the education space –in adherence to World Health Organization’s COVID-19 guidelines – has resulted in the creation of virtual elite schools. Learners from privileged families found sanctuary in digital learning, whilst underprivileged learners continue to be exposed to the reality of commercialised education. This trend has revealed educational inequalities between privileged and underprivileged learners. The paper answers two major questions: 1. What are the inequalities that were reintroduced by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Zimbabwean education system? and 2. How effective is stakeholders’ response to COVID-19-induced inequalities? The paper argues that COVID-19 has dashed the hopes of free education for all, by creating a digital gap that perpetuates and entrenches inequalities in relation to learners. In light of these findings, the study suggests that education stakeholders invest in digital infrastructure, with special attention being paid to learners’ economic status, as opposed to their geographical location.
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